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Betsy Hamilton and Tom Riddle Receive Rita Board Dowd Awards

Betsy Hamilton, principal at Friendship Valley Elementary School, and Tom Riddle, assistant principal at South Carroll High School, have been named as the recipients of the 13th annual Rita Board Dowd Awards for Outstanding Carroll County School Administrators.

These awards are given annually to two school administrators – one principal and one assistant principal (K-12) – awarded independently. The goal of the awards is to recognize exceptional educational leadership in serving Carroll County Public Schools and its students.

Betsy Hamilton has been the principal of Friendship Valley Elementary School since 2018. Prior to that, she was an elementary teacher in CCPS from 2002 to 2014 and a Title I resource teacher at Robert Moton Elementary School from 2015 to 2018.

Hamilton shows deep empathy and focuses her energy on making things better for her students. During the pandemic in the last academic year, she organized several virtual meetings with parents whose children had experienced struggles at her school. These meetings were very productive and gave her ideas on how to improve the learning environment for all children.

Hamilton creates a culture where teachers are encouraged to grow, not only in their pedagogy, but also in their human relations. She goes out of her way to create an environment with parents that is inclusive and collaborative with educators. She is a team player and establishes a school environment where parents feel as though they are active stakeholders.

Tom Riddle has served as an assistant principal at South Carroll High School since 2015. Prior to that he was a social studies teacher at North Carroll Middle School from 2007 to 2009 and Manchester Valley High School from 2009 to 2014, and worked as an ESOL teacher from 2014 to 2015.

Riddle leads to build culture, is very positive, and works tirelessly. He has a strong command of all the duties required to do his job and his staff development skills are stellar. He has taken the lead on peer observations, professional staff learning, and training.

Riddle often holds meetings with student leaders and hears their opinions and ideas. He creates an atmosphere where students can express their suggestions and feedback openly and works to establish teamwork and collaboration between the administration and students. He actively participates in student-led events and reaches out personally to students in need and works to help them be successful. He makes every student feel like they matter.

The Rita Board Dowd Award for Outstanding Carroll County School Administrators was created in 2010. Dowd taught biology and science at North Carroll High School from 1997 to 2002. She was a member of the faculty that opened Winters Mill High School in 2002 and taught biology until her appointment as assistant principal in 2006.

Any full-time elementary, middle, high school, career and technology, or alternative program principal or assistant principal in the Carroll County Public School System may be nominated for this award. Any student, administrator, teacher, parent, faculty and staff member, or other individual may nominate someone they feel deserves consideration for the award.

The selection committee was composed of a member of Rita Board Dowd’s family, the previous year’s winners, school directors, and the Chief of Schools. The entire committee reviewed every application and letter submitted. There were many deserving nominees, although only one could be named in each category.